Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ten works of science fiction that are really fantasy

There is a difference between science fiction and fantasy. "The boundaries ... have always been permeable," writes Annalee Newitz at io9, "but sometimes there's a story that feels just like scifi - until you think about it a little bit. And you realize it's pure fantasy."

One top contender from her list of SF that's really fantasy:
Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

It may be set on another planet and involve some of the most outrageously awesome depictions in literature of the scientific process - as well as hyper-realistic space travel - but Anathem's central premise is metaphysical rather than scientific. The "aliens" in the novel are not from another part of the universe, but instead from a dimension which is "less perfect" than those of the main characters. Stephenson tips his hat to many Western metaphysical theories in explaining this conundrum, which is a big hint to the reader that lurking beneath the hard science fictional armor of this plot is a story of cultural progress that relies more on philosophical principles than scientific ones.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Neal Stephenson made Charlie Jane Anders's list of the 20 biggest science fiction movers-and-shakers of 2008.

--Marshal Zeringue